If a female ballet dancer is called a ballerina, what is a male ballet dancer called?


If a female ballet dancer is called a ballerina, what's a male ballet dancer called? I've always wondered.

-- J. Sorensen, the Net

I hope you have a new wonderment waiting offstage, because you can cross this one off your list. The lady in the tutu is a ballerina; the guy in the tights is a ballerino. That's Italian. Actually "ballerino" has overtones of superiority, like a principal dancer or a dancing master, and it's a term used rarely in the U.S. If we call him something other than "the guy who hoists the prima ballerina around the stage," it's probably "danseur." That's French. Opposite gender of "danceuse." But all in all, who cares? Leotard-guy often has no more work to do than a magician's assistant or a car-show babe-- a lot of smiling and posing and arm extensions, as if he were a model on The Price Is Right and the ballerina were a shiny, new 40-cubic-foot refrigerator-freezer.

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